BY this time, public and private schools have started classes already. Not many will disagree that there are a lot of harried parents whose children are either in public or private schools because of the additional two senior high school years the new K-to-12 curriculum of the Department of Education imposes. Graduating elementary school students have already started with four years of junior high followed by two years of senior high.
If the previous weeks’ school openings could be used as a barometer, then the government needs to take care of a lot of basic needs before the new curriculum could be deemed successful.
ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said based on enrollment figures provided by the DepEd, around 570,000 five-year-old kids will not be able to enroll in kindergarten; over 838,000 in elementary; and over 1.1 million in high school. That means 2.3 million children aged between 5 and 15 will not be going to school for school year 2015-2016.
“These appalling numbers point to the failure of the administration to fulfill its basic constitutional mandate to provide basic education to all Filipinos…[showing]that the vaunted interventions in so-called poverty alleviation, such as the multibillion-peso Conditional-Cash Transfer Program have not been effective in enabling the poorest families to send their children to school,” Tinio said.
The children most likely to be out of school, Tinio said, come from the poorest families in the poorest and most underdeveloped areas in the country.
“President Aquino and the Department of Education cannot claim success in any so-called education reforms for as long as one child in 10 is not able to go to school,” he said.
I agree. While Education Secretary Armin Luistro said he was happy with the turnout on the first day of school, many parents, students and teachers were not.
Classrooms were still overcrowded, with teachers having to do shifts just to accommodate the huge number of students.
The government’s budget allocation for education still has not solved the perennial basic problems: lack of classrooms, teachers, textbooks and other basic needs.
Parents, students and teachers are probably telling themselves in exasperation that an additional two more years of schooling like this is the last thing they need.
Youth groups led by Anakbayan, the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and the National Union of Students of the Philippines, and organizations under the STOP K to 12 Alliance, quoting DepEd figures, said that only 3,839 of the 7,976, or only 48 percent, of public high schools have been submitted for K-to-12 funding and construction.
The LFS said the DepEd is only grappling to address 2010 backlogs, adding that classroom shortages remain at 209,539, 60 million for textbooks, and 2.5 million for sanitation and water facilities, and that the public school system also lacks 114,304 teachers, using a teacher-student ratio of 1:30.
According to the LFS, a student in a public senior high school will need P100,000 to cover expenses for the additional two years under K-to-12. Meanwhile, a student in a private senior high school will need P200,000.
Additional expenses under K-to-12 will eat up most of the annual income of Filipino families, which averages at P235,000, while the poorest families in the country living on P69,000 a year would find it impossible.
Like I said, harried parents everywhere.
Palace officials speaking for the president told the people to send their children to public schools if they cannot cope with the rising cost of private education or of the additional two senior years of high school.
I wonder if their kids go to the same public schools they are recommending, those that suffer from severe shortages in basic facilities. And as the figures say, even public schooling is no longer that cheap, much more if you include the various extraneous fees collected from parents.
Granted, the K-to-12 program is supposed to make our graduates more competitive with the rest of the world by extending our school system to match theirs. But that’s granting that those two additional years would be quality years added to a vastly improved system.
There’s clearly a need for our education system to catch up with other countries, for Filipino graduates to be just as competitive, just as productive and employable as their foreign counterparts. But two more years of the same poor system won’t cut it.